Who propounded the Patriarchial Theory? | Sociology for CUET by Vikash Ranjan | Sociology Guru

Patriarchal Theory


Question: Who propounded the Patriarchial Theory?

  1. Janks
  2. Mclennan
  3. Sir Henry Maine 
  4. Frazer

Answer: (3)

Patriarchal Theory Overview:

The Patriarchal Theory is a sociological perspective that posits the family, specifically the patriarchal family structure, as the foundational unit of society and the precursor to the development of more complex social and political organizations. According to this theory, the head of the family, often the father or eldest male, holds authority and dominance within the familial structure.

Sir Henry Maine and the Patriarchal Theory:

Sir Henry Maine (1822–1888), a British jurist, legal historian, and anthropologist, is widely regarded as a chief supporter of the Patriarchal Theory. In his influential work, “Ancient Law: Its Connection with the Early History of Society, and Its Relation to Modern Ideas,” Maine delved into the historical evolution of legal systems and social structures. He argued that the patriarchal family served as the primitive form from which larger social and political entities emerged.

Key Features of the Patriarchal Theory:

Elementary Group:

Maine identified the elementary group as the family, where individuals are connected by a common subjection to the highest male ascendant. This male ascendant is often the father or the eldest male figure in the family.

Aggregation of Families:

According to Maine, the aggregation of families forms larger units known as “gents” or houses. Further aggregation of houses leads to the formation of tribes, and the aggregation of tribes constitutes the commonwealth or the state.

Extension of Family to State:

The core principle of the Patriarchal Theory is the extension of the family structure to the state. Maine argued that the state is essentially an expansion of the family unit, with the head of the state metaphorically representing the father, and the citizens being akin to his children.

Patria Potestas:

Maine drew examples from various historical and cultural contexts to support his theory. He referenced the “Patria Potestas” in Rome, where the eldest male parent had absolute supremacy within the household, extending to matters of life and death. This concept reinforced the unqualified authority of the male head of the family.

Features of Patriarchal Theory:

The Patriarchal Theory is based on three fundamental features:

Male Kinship: Emphasis on the importance of male lineage and descent within the family structure.

Permanent Marriage: Recognition of the stability and permanence of marital unions.

Paternal Authority: Assertion of the father’s dominant role and authority within the family unit.

Aristotle’s Contribution:

The passage also mentions Aristotle as an important supporter of the Patriarchal Theory. Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, contributed to this perspective by highlighting the progression from families to villages and ultimately to the state. According to Aristotle, the union of many families forms villages, and the aggregation of many villages leads to the establishment of the state. This viewpoint aligns with the idea that the family is the foundational unit upon which larger societal structures are built.

Critiques and Considerations:

While the Patriarchal Theory provides a historical perspective on the evolution of social and political structures, it has faced criticism for its gendered and hierarchical assumptions. Critics argue that the theory tends to reinforce traditional gender roles and may oversimplify the complexity of early human societies. Additionally, it may not fully account for the diversity of family structures and societal formations across different cultures and historical periods.

Relevance and Legacy:

Despite critiques, the Patriarchal Theory has left a lasting impact on the study of sociology, anthropology, and legal history. It has contributed to discussions about the origins of social institutions and the interplay between family structures and the development of complex societies. Scholars continue to engage with and critique this theory as they explore the multifaceted nature of human social evolution.


In conclusion, the Patriarchal Theory, propounded by Sir Henry Maine and supported by Aristotle, offers a perspective on the foundational role of the family in the evolution of society and the state. Maine’s emphasis on the male ascendant, permanent marriage, and paternal authority underscores the significance of the patriarchal family structure in shaping larger social and political entities. While the theory has faced criticism, its historical context and contributions to the understanding of social development make it a noteworthy aspect of sociological discourse. Scholars continue to engage with and build upon these foundational theories to gain insights into the complexities of human societies throughout history.

Take a Quick Sociology Quiz to measure your Performance


Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Question: Define the term “ethnic movement” and provide an example from India.

Answer: An ethnic movement refers to a collective effort by a group sharing common cultural, linguistic, or religious traits, seeking to assert their identity and rights; an example from India is the Khalistan Movement in Punjab.

2. Question: Identify the main objectives behind the Gorkhaland ethnic movement.

Answer: The Gorkhaland ethnic movement primarily seeks to establish a separate state for India’s Nepali-speaking population in the Darjeeling region, advocating for linguistic and cultural recognition and political autonomy.

3. Question: What was the Operation Blue Star, and which ethnic movement was it related to?
Answer: Operation Blue Star was a military action in 1984, aiming to remove Sikh militants hiding in the Golden Temple in Amritsar; it is related to the Khalistan movement, which sought a separate Sikh country.

4. Question: Mention a critical factor that triggered the emergence of ethnic movements in India, as discussed by Dipankar Gupta.
Answer: Dipankar Gupta emphasized that ethnicity is fundamentally a political process, wherein caste and religion, the key components of identity formation, are politicized by leaders for vested interests.

5. Question: What were the primary reasons for the Assam Ethnicity conflicts involving Bodo tribals and Bengali Muslim settlers?
Answer: The Assam Ethnicity conflicts primarily stemmed from issues related to immigration, land rights, and resource allocation, leading to clashes, riots, and evolving relationships among indigenous communities to address challenges.

6. Question: Briefly describe the role of the Dravidian Movement in terms of caste and societal structure.
Answer: The Dravidian Movement, led notably by E.V. Ramasamy, aimed to establish an egalitarian society, focusing on anti-Brahmanism and advocating for equal rights for backward castes, while also introducing reforms like self-respect marriages.

7. Question: Name the prominent ethnic movements in North-East India and specify one common objective.
Answer: Prominent ethnic movements in North-East India include the Nagas’ and Mizos’ struggles; a common objective was to gain autonomy and recognition for their distinct tribal identities and cultural uniqueness.

8. Question: What is the key argument of Gail Omveldt regarding traditional Indian society and multiculturalism?
Answer: Gail Omveldt opposed romanticizing traditional Indian society, arguing that hierarchy has always dominated it and dismissing the notion that multiculturalism is an intrinsic feature of Indian society as a myth.

9. Question: Briefly explain the social hierarchy factor as a contributing element to ethnic movements as suggested by Olzak.
Answer: Olzak suggests that the construction of hierarchies among ethnic communities, which often leads to the suppression of one group by another, is a key factor that can instigate social and ethnic movements.

10. Question: Identify one consequence of the unequal economic development factor within the context of ethnic movements in India.
Answer: One consequence of unequal economic development is the marginalization and underdevelopment of certain groups, leading to feelings of alienation and sometimes initiating ethnic movements as these groups strive for equality and recognition.

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